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Poughkeepsie, NY … Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) has been awarded a $917,000 grant award from the New York State Department of Health to further build capacity for COVD-19 case investigation and contact tracing coordination. The grant funding will enable DBCH to hire five Public Health Advisors, including a senior supervisory position, for up to 18 months. Recruitment is now open and interested applicants can review job description and apply online at the County’s website at www.dutchessny.gov/jobs.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “This grant enables us to bolster our public health team and ensure we can continue to deal with case investigation and contact tracing quickly to prevent spread. This is critically important as the reopening process continues, -particularly school reopenings - and greater interaction leads to case increases, we need to have the capacity to respond rapidly.”
The grant is intended to increase local health department staffing to conduct rapid and complete case investigations, including ensuing that once contacts are identified, they are reached within 48 hours and have access to testing. The additional staffing will also be available for daily monitoring of cases and contacts and ensure any social supports needs are being met and for effective isolation/quarantine.
The grant funding comes at a critical time as local health departments must take on an ever-increasing workload and the annual flu season approaches. Local health departments have seen their role greatly expanded beyond their normal areas of jurisdiction, particularly as the reopening process has continued. For example, health departments were tasked with conducting gym inspections by the state as a requirement of reopening of gyms and fitness studios, though these businesses are not under the authority of local health departments. Locally, DBCH has been providing support and assistance to nursing homes, assisted living centers and developmentally disabled group homes, all of which normally work directly with NYS DOH. Additionally, DBCH has been coordinating closely with colleges and school districts for their reopening planning. All of this goes beyond the normal workload of DBCH, which still continues and includes other disease and virus surveillance, such as Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness, as well as annual flu monitoring.
“Our public health team has been working non-stop for more than six months responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and I am exceptionally grateful to all of the extraordinary members of our team whose professionalism and dedication has been inspiring,” said DBCH Commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian. “These additional Public Health Advisors will be welcome additions to our team and enable us to continue our fight against COVID-19, while ensuring we are also addressing other critical health concerns in our community including overdose prevention, tick-borne disease awareness, and much more.”
The grant-funded Public Health Advisors will be responsible for performing investigations and advising on all phases of coronavirus pandemic control efforts. These individuals will be part of DBCH’s Rapid Response Team and take part in case investigation activities including index case and contacts interviews, provide education and public information, assist with data collection and creation of reports and analysis; and stay abreast of new techniques and information that can be locally adapted in the fight against COVID-19.
Interested candidates should have strong knowledge of public health communicable disease investigation as well as current trends relating to emerging techniques and treatment and must have strong interview and communications skills, with positive interpersonal skills to successfully inform and educate individuals and the public at large. Candidates should have the ability to prepare complete and concise reports. Candidates should have education and/or experience in nursing, social work, health education or a health-related field.
For full job descriptions and application information, visit www.dutchessny.gov/jobs. Application deadline is September 11th.